Family • Liliaceae / Smilacaceae - Smilax china Linn. - CHINESE SARSAPARILLA - Ba qia

Scientific names

Smilax china Linn.
Smilax chinensis
Smilax pteropus Miq.
Smilax taiheiensis Hayata
Ba qia (Chin.)

Common names

Buanal (Ig.)
Palipit (Bon.)
Sarsaparillang-china (Tag.)
China root (Engl.)
Chinese sarsaparilla (Engl.)
Chinese smilax (Engl.)
Wild smilax (Engl.)
Jing gong dou (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Jin gang teng.
FRENCH: Racine de Chine, Squine.
GERMAN: Chinawurzel.
HINDI: Chobchini.
INDONESIA: Gadung cina, Peudang, Ghadhung tambha.
MALAYSIA: Gadong china, Gadong saberang, Akar restong.
SPANISH: Zarzaparilla De China.
VIETNAM: Kim chang trung qu[oos]e.


Sarsaparillang-china is a woody vine armed with small thorns all over the stem. Rhizomes are long, thick and grey colored. Leaves are simple, alternate, elliptically oblong to subrounded, 5 to 8 centimeters long, 2.5 to 4 centimeters wide; those toward the end of the branches are much smaller and veined. Petioles are about 7 millimeters long, with adnate spiculate stipules which frequently are extended into tendrils. Inflorescence arises from the upper leaf axils, 3 to 5 centimeters long. Flowers are white to yellowish-green, their pedicels subtended by bracteoles, umbellate. Berries are globose, reddish when ripe.


– In mossy forests at altitudes of 1,600 to 2,400 meters in Bontoc, Lepanto, Benguet, and Zambales Provinces in Luzon, and in Mindanao and Negros.
– Occurs in Japan and China, where is it indigenous.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Smilax china / Plants For A Future

(2) Anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive activities of Smilax china L. aqueous extract / Xiao-Shun Shu, , Zhong-Hong Gao and Xiang-Liang Yang / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 103, Issue 3, 20 February 2006, Pages 327-332 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.08.004

(3) Anti-hyperuricemic and nephroprotective effects of Smilax china L. / Lvyi Chen, Huafeng Yin, Zhou Lan et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 135, Issue 2, 17 May 2011, Pages 399-405 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.03.033

(4) Anticonvulsant and neurotoxicity profile of rhizome of Smilax china Linn. in mice / A Vijayalakshmi, V Ravichandiran et al / Indian Journ of Pharmacology, Feb 2011, Vol 43, No 1, pp 27-30

(5) Anti-inflammatory activities of Sieboldogenin from Smilax china Linn.: Experimental and computational studies / Inamullah Khan, Muhammad Nisar et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 121, Issue 1, 12 January 2009, Pages 175-177 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.10.009

(6) Study on Antioxidant Stilbenes from the Rhizomes of Smilax china / ZHAO Zhongxiang, JIN Jing, ZHU Chenchen, ZHANG Cuixian et al / Traditional Chinese Drug Research & Clinical Pharmacology, 2008-02 / DOI: CNKI:SUN:ZYXY.0.2008-02-016

(7) Study on the pharmacological action of Smilax China L on promoting blood circulation / Liu Yong Ning, Chen Dong Sheng and Xu Chu Hong / Chinese Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, 2002-09 / DOI: CNKI:SUN:ZGYZ.0.2002-09-01

(8) A flavonoid glycoside isolated from Smilax china L. rhizome in vitro anticancer effects on human cancer cell lines / Yuan-Li Li, Guo-Ping Gan et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 113, Issue 1, 15 August 2007, Pages 115-124 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.05.016

(9) Smilax china / Common names / GLOBinMED

(10) Studies on chemical constituents of Smilax china / Ruan J, Zou J, Cai Y. / Zhong Yao Cai. 2005 Jan;28(1):24-6.

(11) Antidiabetic activity of Smilax china roots in alloxan-induced diabetic rats / B.G. Solomon Raju, B.Ganga Rao,Y.B. Manju Latha / Pharma Tech, Vol 4, No 1, pp 369-374, Jan-Mar 2012.

(12) Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Smilax china L. leaf extracts / Hye-Kyung Seo, Jong-Hwa Lee, Hyun-Su Kim, Chang-Kwon Lee, Seung-Cheol Lee / Food Science and Biotechnology, December 2012, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1723-1727

(13) PHENOLIC COMPOSITION AND IN VITRO ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITIES OF SMILAX CHINA ROOT / CHANG-HO JEONG, HEE ROK JEONG, JI HYUN KWAK, JI HYE KIM, GWI NAM CHOI, DAE-OK KIM, UK LEE, HO JIN HEO* / Journal of Food Biochemistry, Volume 37, Issue 1, pages 98–107, February 2013 / DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-4514.2011.00610.x

(14) Effect of Smilax china Linn. on Testicular Antioxidant Activity and Spermatological Parameters in Rats Subjected to Forced Swimming Stress / C D Saraswathi, M V Suresh, Satyanarayan Sreemantula, K Venkata Krishna / International Research Journal of Pharmacy,2012, 3(11).

(15) ANTIHYPERGLYCEMIC AND ANTIHYPERLIPIDEMIC PROPERTY OF SMILAX CHINA IN ALLOXAN INDUCED DIABETIC RATS / U. SARASWATHI AND N.R. NITHYA / Asian Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology & Environmental Sciences Paper, Vol.12, Issue 1, 2010; Page No.(49-53)

– Phytochemical screening of methanol extract yielded flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, saponins, and glycosides.
– Root contains fat, sugar, glucoside, coloring matter, gum and starch.
– Root also yields smilacin, tannin, resin, cinchonin and saponin.
– Dried rhizomes yield fat, sugar, glycoside, glycoside, coloring matter, saponin, tannin, cinchonin. smilacin, and starch.
– Leaves reported to contain rutin.
– Ethyl acetate fraction of an ethanol extract of rhizomes yielded seven compounds, structure of three were established as dihydrokaempferol-5-O-beta-D-glucoside, beta-sitosterol, and daucosterol.

– Depurative, demulcent, diaphoretic, stimulant, alterative, antisyphilitic, aphrodisiac.
– Studies have described antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and neuroprotective effects.

Parts used
Roots, leaves and rhizomes.

– Roots, cooked.
– Young shoots and leaves, raw or cooked.
– Used as potherb.
– Tea made from leaves.
– Fruit eaten raw.

– In the Philippines, decoction of roots and rhizomes used as depurative in cases of herpetism and syphilis.
– In India, used to some extent like sarsaparilla, in decoction as a depurative, diaphoretic, stimulant, alterative, antisyphilitic, and aphrodisiac.
– Sudorific and demulcent, used in rheumatism.
– Used as alterative in old syphilitic cases and in chronic rheumatism.
– In large doses, causes nausea and vomiting.
– Used for various skin diseases.
– In Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medical systems, used for syphilis, skin diseases, epilepsy, insanity, flatulence, dyspepsia, constipation, fever, neuralgia, rheumatism, gout and general debility. Smilax china is the accepted botanical source of the Ayurvedic drug Chopachinee.
– In traditional Chinese medicine, used as diuretic and for treatment of rheumatic arthritic conditions; also used for detoxification, treatment of gout, tumors, and lumbago.
– in Korea used as a remedy for inflammatory disease and ischuria.
– Inhalation from sarsaparilla roots used in asthma.

Study Findings
• Anti-Inflammatory / Antinociceptive / COX Inhibition: Study in rats of aqueous extract of tubers of Smilax china showed anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects. Results showed inhibition of both COX-2 activity and COX expression.
• Chemical Constituents: Study of rhizomes isolated 13 compounds: kaemperol-7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, engeletin, isoengeletin, kaempferol, dihydrokaempferol, dihydrokaempferol-5-O-P-D-glucopyranoside, rutin, kaempferol- 5-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 3, 5, 4′-trihydroxystibene, vanillic acid, 3, 5-dimethoxy4-O-beta-D-glu-copyranosylcinnamic acid, beta-sitosterol, and beta-daucosterol.
• Nephroprotective / Anti-Hyperuricemic: An ethyl acetate fraction exhibited strong anti-hyperuricemic activity. Caffeic acid, resveratrol, rutin and oxyresveratrol isolated from the EAF showed different inhibitory effects on xanthine oxidase in vitro. The EAF also prevented renal damage against tubulointerstitial pathologies in hyperuricemic rats.
• Anticonvulsant: Results of study of ethanolic extract and ethyl acetate fraction of the rhizome of SC in mice showed it may help control petit mal and grand mal seizures.
• Sieboldogenin / Anti-Inflammatory: Study isolated seiboldogenin from ethyl acetate fraction of the plant crude extract. Seiboldogenin showed significant lipoxygenase inhibition and significant inhibition of carrageenan-induced hind paw edema and presents as a potential new anti-inflammatory compound.
• Stilbenes / Antioxidant: Study isolated 3 compounds: resveratrol, oxyresveratrol, and 3, 5, 3′ , 4′ – tetrahydroxylstilbene. The compounds showed strong antioxidant activity and effective scavenging of DPPH free radicals.
• Circulatory Benefits / Coagulation Effects: Study results conclude S china has a pharmacologic benefits on promoting circulation which may be from inhibition of platelet aggregation and prolongation of clotting time.
• Flavonoid Glycoside / Anticancer: Study of eight crude extracts of Smilax china showed a fraction rich in flavonoids to show good activity against HeLa cells. Study isolated kaempferol-7-O-ß-D-glucoside, a flavonoid glycoside, and exhibited marked anticancer activity. The antiproliferative effect may be due to cell cycle arrest at G1 phase and induction of apoptosis.
• Anti-Diabetic: Study of various extracts of roots were evaluated for hypoglycemic activity in alloxan-induced diabetic Wistar rats. Alcoholic and aqueous extracts showed significant blood glucose reduction. A petroleum extract exhibited very weak anti-diabetic activity.
• Antioxidant / Antimicrobial: Various leaf extracts were evaluated for antioxidant and antimicrobial activities. The ethanol extract showed the highest DPPH, ABTS radical scavenging activity, and reducing power. All extracts inhibited the growth of Listeria monocytogenes, S. aureus, and Salmonella typhimurium. Results suggest potential use in the food and cosmetic industry.
• Antioxidant / Phenolic Composition: Various extracts were tested for radical scavenging and antioxidant activities. The ethyl acetate fractions showed the highest antioxidant activity, correlating with the high phenolic levels, particularly catechin and epicatechin.
• Anti-Diabetic / Rhizomes: In a study of various extracts in rats with allloxan-induced diabetes, the hydroalcoholic and aqueous fractions exhibited anti-diabetic activity.
• Antihyperglycemic / Antihyperlipidemic: Study of a hydroethanolic extract of Smilax china in alloxan-induced diabetic rats showed pretreatment for 30 days reverted the biochemical parameters almost to normal.
• Testicular Antioxidant Activity / Spermatogenesis Benefits: Rats subjected to forced swimming stress showed increase lipid peroxidation and decrease in testicular SOD, catalase, sperm count, viability and motility. Results showed pretreatment of rats with rhizome ethanol extracts showed good protection against testicular antioxidant activity and improved spermatological parameters.
• Antihepatotoxic: Study evaluated an methanolic extract of roots against CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in albino rats. Results showed a dose-related protective action against CCl4-induced liver damage with significant effect on serum enzyme levels and morphological parameters supported by histopathological changes. The hepatoprotection was attributed the flavonoid content.

Herbs, capsules, tablets, and tinctures in the cybermarkets.